Adventure River is the Children’s Ministry of Springdale Community Church in Louisville, KY. We exist to encourage children in love, equip Christ-followers for ministry and engage in God's mission for the world.
A couple of days after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem and the day after He cleansed the temple, Jesus returned to the temple complex and began teaching. The chief priests and elders questioned Jesus. “Who gave You this authority?” they asked. These religious leaders did not want to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. So Jesus told them parables to get them thinking and to teach them about Himself.
The parable of the wicked tenants illustrates the story of Israel’s history. As you teach kids, help them connect the story to what happened in Israel’s history. First, the landowner is God the Father. He chose to bless the world through Abraham’s family, the people of Israel. The vineyard is Israel.
The tenants are the leaders of Israel. Throughout history, God sent the Old Testament prophets to speak to God’s people. But they did not listen to the prophets. Like the tenants of the vineyard, Israel’s leaders persecuted the prophets. So God the Father sent His Son, Jesus. Jesus knew that the people were going to kill Him like the tenants killed the landowner’s son.
Jesus led the leaders to conclude themselves what would be fair: that the landowner would punish the tenants and find workers who respect Him. God too is just. God will judge those who reject Jesus. He planned to choose a people who respect and trust Him—those who have faith—and form a community of believers from every nation to live under His righteous leadership.
Jesus told this story to teach the religious leaders about Himself. God sent His own Son, Jesus, to earth but the religious leaders rejected Him. Jesus is the cornerstone—the most important One of all. Only He can save us from our sin.
Those who encounter Jesus can either accept and trust Him or walk away and reject Him. No one who meets Jesus will walk away unchanged. Pray that God would change the hearts of your kids so that they would come to trust in Jesus, the Son of the loving and just Master, who wants everyone to come to repentance. (2 Pet. 3:9)
FAMILY STARTING POINTS
Babies and Toddlers
Jesus told stories about God.
Jesus told a story about God’s plan.
People wanted to hurt Jesus.
God sent Jesus because He loves us.
Why did Jesus tell stories? Jesus told stories to teach people about God.
God will judge those who do not follow Jesus.
Why did Jesus tell parables? Jesus told parables to teach people about God and His kingdom.
This week we turned our attention back to Judah and picked up the big story with God’s people in quite a bind. The prophet Joel spoke to the Southern Kingdom of Judah at a time when the nation faced a crisis. The land had been invaded by locusts; swarms of the insects had devastated the plants. Judah was also affected by a severe drought.
Joel looked back on these events and announced that these were not mere natural disasters—the Lord was judging the people for their sin.
In Deuteronomy 28, God told His people, “If you do not obey the Lord your God by carefully following all His commands and statutes I am giving you today, all these curses will come and overtake you … You will sow much seed in the field but harvest little, because locusts will devour it” (vv. 15,38). That is exactly what happened.
These disasters were a wake-up call. Joel told the people to repent. He told them to fast. He told them to gather and repent together, crying out to God and asking Him to show them mercy. Then Joel looked ahead to the future. In essence he said, “You think this is bad? This is only the beginning!”
God’s judgment of Judah was not over. The Day of the Lord was coming, a day when God would show His strength through an invading army. For those who were not right with God, this was bad news. God’s power would be against them. So Joel implored them, “Return to the LORD your God. For He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in faithful love, and He relents from sending disaster.”
God had pity on His people and promised to restore them. God would rather forgive His people than punish them.
Joel warned God’s people about the Day of the Lord—a day when God will judge His enemies, free His people, and make the world right again. Those who trust in Jesus will escape God’s punishment for sin. Jesus was punished in our place, and we share in His righteousness.
Help your kids see that God takes sin seriously, but at the same time, He showers grace upon those who trust in Jesus. God sent His Son, Jesus, to die for sins so people could be right with God. An ultimate Day of the Lord is coming, and everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
FAMILY STARTING POINTS
Babies and Toddlers
God loves people.
Joel was God’s prophet.
Joel said God wants to forgive people.
God forgives us through His Son, Jesus.
What is God like? God is merciful and loving.
God warned His people to repent.
What is God like? God is slow to anger, merciful, and loving.
God warned His people to repent before the Day of the Lord.